Fisher Communications to Deploy Backchannelmedia's Clickable TV Technology

Boston-based interactive TV advertising specialist, Backchannelmedia, said Monday that it has signed a station group agreement with Fisher Communications that will see the latter's local TV stations deploying its Clickable TV technology on an opt-in basis (note: Backchannelmedia also has agreements in place with the LIN and Gray station groups--for more on the Gray deal, see below--that call for the latter to deploy Clickable TV throughout their stations, and in addition the technology is being trialed by Hearst-Argyle and Media General; five stations have deployed the technology to date: Hearst-Argyle's WCVB and WMUR, Media General's WJAR; and LIN Television's WTNH and WCTX). As a result of the deal, Backchannelmedia says, viewers who choose to participate in the Clickable TV service will see a small, non-intrusive "bug" at the bottom of their TV screen alerting them to the availability of interactivity on the commercial or program they are watching (the company calls these opportunities to interact "clickable moments"). By clicking a button on their remote, they will then be able to bookmark supplemental content to a personal Web portal, or have it sent to their email address.

According to Backchannelmedia, its Clickable TV technology works through over-the-air digital broadcast (with a special set-top box), cable, satellite and other platforms to "bring together the reach of television and the Internet to create a powerful digital platform." The company says that the new advertising and content inventory created by the "clickable moment" allows TV stations to sell "clickable moments" to advertisers on a per-click basis, in addition to impression-based commercial spots. It bills Clickable TV as being designed to be a "superior advertising vehicle to Internet search engines" that is free from behavioral targeting and that allows viewers to manage their opt-in data. It claims that all opt-in data is carefully managed and is spam- and click fraud-free. "We see Backchannelmedia's Clickable TV technology as a game changer for our television stations and advertisers," Rob Dunlop, SVP of operations at Fisher Communications, said in a prepared statement. "The reach of television will continue delivering information about products and services to a wide audience and build brands, but now goes a step further and delivers a customer to our advertisers." Added Backchannelmedia founder and co-CEO, Michael Kokernak: "We are excited to bring to Fisher's viewers a new way to communicate and share information. As a result of the digital transition, technologies like Clickable TV usher in a new era for broadcasting." Clickable TV is scheduled to begin roll-out on Fisher stations in around three months.

Backchannelmedia's Clickable TV deal with Gray Television was announced in February. The company says that Gray, which owns 36 local TV stations with a combined reach of up to 7 million households, plans to deploy the technology on a per-station basis "until reaching full deployment in all Gray Television stations." "We spent several months researching the technical feasibility and consumer appeal of Backchannelmedia's clickable television," Gray Television president, Robert S. Prather, Jr., said in a prepared statement. "We are excited by the prospects of utilizing our digital spectrum to not only potentially launch a new revenue stream but also to engage our viewers in such a powerful way." Added Backchannelmedia co-CEO, Dan Hassan: "Clickable TV became a reality upon the launch of our market trials in May 2008. The response from consumers has been overwhelmingly positive and our partnership with Gray will further speed the rollout of Clickable TV to consumers." (Note: for an in-depth overview of Backchannelmedia and its technology, see [itvt]'s interview with Dan Hassan in Issue 8.29.)


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